Thunder Bay·Audio

Dryden, Ont., starts process to rename Colonization Avenue

Dryden City Council has accepted a proposed street renaming application for Colonization Avenue, and has begun to seek public input on the process. 

The city is accepting comments from the public regarding the renaming application for 60 days

The Dryden Working Circle said the street is a hurtful reminder of the negative effects of colonization to many Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples who visit or live in and around the City of Dryden. (Dryden Working Circle)

City councillors in Dryden, Ont., have accepted a proposed street renaming application for Colonization Avenue, and has begun to seek public input on the process. 

A public push to rename the street began in the summer of 2020, and a renaming application was officially presented to the city council by Dryden's Working Circle on Monday.

The group, which has been created to recognize and enhance the relationship between the city and Indigenous and Métis residents, said changing the name of the street is an action that could move the city closer to reconciliation.

Shayne MacKinnon is a Dryden city councillor, and Cheryl Edwards is executive director of the Dryden Native Friendship Centre. They're members of the The Dryden Working Circle and put forward a renaming application of Colonization Avenue in Dryden Ont. 8:49

"Changing a name may seem trivial, but it sends the message that we will not tolerate racism while encouraging us to educate ourselves on the history of colonization. It shows people that we're capable of listening to each other and that we are committed to building stronger relationships," reads a brochure created by the Dryden Working Circle.

As part of the application process, the city is accepting comments from the public regarding the renaming application for a period of sixty days. 

Council also directed the Working Circle to conduct a public education campaign, encouraging residents to propose new street names. The Dryden Working Circle will then short list the submitted names to be considered by Council.

Regional municipalities to follow suit

Other municipalities in northwestern Ontario, such as Kenora, have already renamed a roadway, previously called Colonization Road.

In November, the town of Fort Frances Ont. deferred a vote to rename its Colonization Road to allow more time for consultation.

Fort Frances Councillor Douglas Judson, who put the renaming proposal forward to town council, said the progress made in Dryden is an exciting positive step forward. 

"This is really positive momentum for our region to live up to our Truth and Reconciliation Commission obligations and be responsive to those calls to action," said Judson in an interview with CBC.

Judson said while the process to rename Colonization Road in Fort Frances is taking longer than he would have liked, he remained optimistic that the town will end up with a positive result from the process.

"So, you know, when we look across the map, we see these exact decisions being made across Ontario and in other provinces. So Kenora, Dryden, Lake of Bays, Blind River and various other municipalities have recognized that these problematic names can't be left to stand," he said. 

Processes to rename the road in Fort Frances are currently being carried out. Judson said he expects the town will be closer to making a decision in March.

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